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What we need is a trusting society, Darling

"What I want to avoid is getting ourselves in a position governments have done in the past where you face an immediate problem and cut back on things the country will need in the future," Chancellor Alistair Darling said last weekend.

Editorial: Children's services remain colour-blind

Findings of a study about engaging black and minority ethnic (BME) parents in children's services have been published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (see p4). Given government policy's emphasis on positive parenting and on connecting with hard-to-reach communities, it contains important messages for professionals who work with the young and their families.

Youth employment is key to revival

The outstandingly depressing budget of 2009 has left children's services in limbo, braced for the tightest of public spending squeezes and a likely change of government.

Editorial: Inherent dangers lurk in staying safe plan

With the publication of the Staying Safe Action Plan last week, the government has been at pains not to be seen to wrap children up in cotton wool. In presentation terms, the document's front cover depicts children happily participating in watersports, climbing and running. Meanwhile, the Department for Children, Schools and Families' press notice on the safety plan leads heavily on the proposal to encourage teachers to take pupils on outdoor school trips by providing advice and diminishing bureaucracy.

Show some respect for state schools

The drama over education reform continued at last week's Labour Party conference. Shadow education secretary Ed Balls naturally joined in, describing the coalition government's plans for free schools as "the most socially divisive education experiment for 60 years".

Class and race merit more attention

The underachievement of white working-class children has justifiably become a cause for national concern. Plenty of schools are making great strides to tackle the issue. Nevertheless, it has led to declarations, most recently from Communities Secretary John Denham, that social class is the most significant factor in determining school achievement rather than ethnicity.

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